Chicago to St. Louis same day round trip on May 1.

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Steve4031

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This trip occurred at the last minute. I originally had plans to spend the day with my GF. She sent me a text early in the morning letting me know that she was not feeling well. She knew that I would probably want to take a train trip and encouraged me to do so. Once that I had established that she was going to be ok, I made my plans. I decided to use points to ride round trip to St. Louis. Business class was not available on 303. But it would be available on 306 for the return. This would set up a compare and contrast trip report.

After I had breakfast with my father I drove down and parked in a garage near Union Station. ParkWhiz helps with finding good parking rates at secure indoor locations near wherever you would want to park in large city. The garage was one block north of Union Station. I parked at 8:35 and walked over to Union Station in time to hit Dunkin’ Donuts for 2 coffee rolls and picked up a couple of bottles of water. I settled in at the South Gate waiting area about 8:45. Soon the person working the gate area moved all passengers for 303 into the holding area where handicapped people and business class passengers usually wait. I positioned myself near the door to track 22. The man working the gates was walking around and then decided to pass between the sets of seats rather than walk to the end of the row. I was fiddling with something in my bag and my foot was partly in his way. Since he was coming from behind me I did not see him nor would I expect anyone to pass through the narrow area. He stepped on my foot and nearly tripped. I wasn’t injured, merely surprised. I was glad he did not fall. When he walked back over by me I asked him if he was ok. He scolded me and told me I should have left the rope up when I came through. I told him that I had not touched the rope. And that I would never do so since I did not work for Amtrak. He just looked at me and said oh. No apology. He must have been pretty stressed. A few minutes later we boarded 303.

The business class car is on the back, so I know I will have a rail fan window this evening for the return. The St. Louis passengers were seated in the the coach immediately in front of the food service/business class car. Half of the seats face forward, half face backwards. I sat in the last row facing forward and sat on the right side. The seats have been refurbished with gray leather like material that I have seen in Amfleet and horizon cars. There is new carpeting too. After a 3 hours I am still pretty comfortable in this seat. So I thing they are an improvement over the past seats. There have been the usual announcements about wearing masks accept for eating or drinking. I was allowed to consume my two coffee rolls and drink a bottle of water in peace for a duration of 15 minutes. I put my mask back on. Nothing was said to me.

We departed on time. Then we sat in the yard and waited for the Pierre Marquette and the Lake Shore Limited to pass through. Then we proceeded slowly south across the bridge and through the 21st street junction. We continued slower than normal speeds and stopped at a couple of the junctions. Then stopped after one of the junctions. The conductor announced that we were stopped because of the PTC system not working in the engine. A while later I got a message from Amtrak through the app that 303 is running 30 minutes late due to train traffic and signaling issues.

After departing Joliet we have run at 79 mph consistently except for a brief meet with 22. Tracks are smooth and the horizon coach is riding smoothly. The business class car is an amfleet. It will be interesting to note the difference in ride when I come back.
 

TrackWalker

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What is with the fancy black metal fencing along the right of way property line on this route? It is everywhere and goes for miles upon miles. I've never seen anything like it before. State law?
IMG_1845.JPG
 

Steve4031

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The fencing is supposed to keep pedestrians off of the tracks. The faster moving trains create a greater risk of someone being run over if they are on the tracks when they should not be. We all know that where there is a will to be stupid there is a way to be stupid. And somebody will get run over just like people got run over by the bright line trains in Florida.

303 used padding between Alton and St, Louis to make up the 30 minutes that had been lost between Chicago and Joliet.

I decided to take Lyft to a restaurant in the Hyatt by the arch. The place was busy and the food mediocre. And then I took another Lyft back to the station. 306 boarded about 5:15. We departed on time. I am now in business class. These seats too have been refurbished. They are an improvement over the older business class seats. Still two and one seating. There is new carpeting that matches the carpeting in the horizon coach.

We are now stopped south of Alton because of freight traffic. I believe we are just north of Lenox junction based on my phone GPS. The conductor announced that we were waiting for a southbound freight and then we would follow a northbound freight out of Alton and overtake this NB freight north of Alton. We have been sitting for 30 minutes I have not seen the southbound freight. Another fine job of dispatching by UP.
 

Steve4031

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She definitely is a keeper.

We have sat here for 90 minutes. The conductor has kept us updated. The engine on the southbound freight broke down. We had to wait while it was being fixed. Moments ago we were advised that we would be back on the move.
 

jiml

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She definitely is a keeper.
Not knowing you personally I was hesitant to make that comment, but if you have a travel "habit" it's important to have someone who will support it - whether a "mileage run" to qualify for Executive Platinum with a certain airline😇 or random Amtrak trips to nowhere in particular (also guilty).
 
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Steve4031

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To close things out, we finally arrived Union Station at 1:03 a.m. 1 hour 43 minutes late. At one point the conductor was optimistically predicting a 12:34 arrival. But we got caught by a freight after leaving summit. I took a couple of naps with my mask on. I woke myself up snoring so that proves I can sleep with a mask on.

The LSA was professional and pleasant. There were only 2 people in BC. One of the coach passengers was enamored of her and kept making visits back to the snack car to see her. He was also using the bathroom and apparently had poor aim. She got tired of cleaning up after him and kept the bathroom locked. Each time I passed by to go she jumped up and unlocked it. I appreciated her effort on our behalf. I don't want to think about the coach passengers who had to share a bathroom with this guy.
 
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